Radio Faux Show Volume 2, Number 25 (July 17, 2022): Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs Part One (Female Artists)

Radio Faux Show Volume 2, Number 25 (July 17, 2022): Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs Part One (Female Artists)

This Week’s Theme: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs Part One (Female Artists)

The theme of Radio Faux Show Volume 1, Number 35 was Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs. Looking back at it now, I stand by everything I said and feel that it was a pretty well thought out argument against the discriminatory practices of their election committee. Now that the 2022 Rock Hall inductees have been announced, it is time to take a look and see if any of those issues have been addressed. The main concerns I addressed in last year’s show were discrimination against women, foreign artists, and non-pop/rock artists.

Before this year there were a little under 400 artists (or around 725 people) who could claim membership, with the percentage of women members coming in at a shameful nine percent. In order to make any attempt at correcting this issue, the ratio of female to male artists needs to at least start to approach a fifty/fifty split. Of the seventeen artists nominated this year, only six of them are women (Pat Benatar, Kate Bush, Annie Lennox, Dolly Parton, Carly Simon, and Dionne Warwick). If you consider the fact that the women are all individuals and the total number of men nominated (solo and bands) is over forty, it is obvious that there is no way this was going to turn out well for female inclusion. In the end, this year’s inductees include 14 artists (or 25 people) and six of them are women. That is a percentage of 24 percent. This is certainly an improvement over many previous years and overall, but is actually a lower percentage than in 2021. The overall percentage of female members is now up to ten percent. At that rate, it will take another fifty years just to get the number up to 25% overall. Grade: Fail

The focus on white rock artists has always been obvious, and unless you recorded in the ’60s you had better be from the United States if you are going to get nominated. This is obviously not a universal truth but, statistically speaking, it is the case for most inductees. Of the seventeen 2022 nominees, five were non-American (Kate Bush, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Judas Priest, and Fela Kuti) and only five recorded music outside of the pop/rock genre (Beck, Eminem, Fela Kuti, Dolly Parton, and A Tribe Called Quest). In the end, this year’s inductees include 14 artists (or 25 people), 12 of them are non-American, and four are non-pop/rock artists. This looks like a lot of non-American artists (almost 50%), but only because two of the artists are groups of five men (Duran Duran and Judas Priest). Only three of the fourteen artists are from outside the US and only two (who are both not very deserving ahead of many other artists) are outside of the pop/rock genre. Grade: Fail

On a personal note, I discussed around forty artists in last year’s Rock Hall Snubs Faux Show. Of all of them, only ten were nominated this year (Beck, Pat Benatar, Kate Bush, Devo, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Judas Priest, Fela Kuti, New York Dolls, and Carly Simon) and only five of them were inducted (Pat Benatar, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Judas Priest, and Carly Simon). This is a meaningless statistic since I am of zero importance to their committee, but from a purely statistical point of view, that is a 5 out of 40, which equals 12.5%. Grade: Fail

To conclude, this pitiful organization has wasted another year and continues to stand as a bloated, corporate, mainstream, conservative, American-biased, white, male-dominated organization. So much for changing their board, including the failed heralding of Dave Grohl as someone who would finally make a difference. For the most obvious snubs, like Wilco, Weird Al Yankovic, The Monkees, Brian Eno, Erik B & Rakim, Ice-T, Salt-n-Pepa, War, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Sonic Youth, The Smiths, Sheryl Crow, Connie Francis, and The Carpenters there is always next year. I won’t hold my breath, because there is always another Eminem or Guns ‘n’ Roses to come along and take the spot away from much more deserving artists.

Welcome to Radio Faux Show Volume Two, Number Twenty-Five.

First things first – click a link to start listening and then come back to read about this week’s songs.


Amazon Music

Instead of simply rehashing the obvious snubs discussed in Radio Faux Show Volume 1, Number 35 , I’ve decided to create a two-part Rock Hall Snubs series. The focus of this week’s show is female artists who should be inducted. As I said in last year’s show, the best thing the Rock Hall could do would be to drop all of their artificial limits on induction and make things right by simply inducting a large group of women. They shouldn’t even nominate any men. They should nominate fifty women and induct at least twenty-five of them.

I’ve selected thirty-one female artists for this week’s show who I believe should be on that list. Some of them are not the most obvious choices, while others are shockingly absent from membership. There are all-female groups, solo artists, women who feature prominently in bands made up of mostly men, rock artists, R&B/soul artists, rappers, old artists, new artists, and all variety in between. I think that what is most important to understand is that after almost a century of women recording artists having their talent exploited, their abilities downplayed, and their chance for success stolen from them, the list of female artists requires discussion beyond the normal qualities applied to male artists. Objective qualities such as record sales, hits, popularity, and influence do not work in determining the importance of artists who were never given the chance to sell music, perform live, write their own songs, or even record at all. That is what makes this list of women so impressive. While going up against an industry designed for their failure, they were able to succeed, often-times even more so then their male contemporaries. It is time for all of these women to get in line behind Lita Ford, raise up their guitars, drumsticks, and microphones, and smash the glass ceiling once and for all.

Major Snubs

I could argue that many of the women on this week’s show are major snubs, but these two female artists stand out to me above the rest. For The Carpenters, because I can’t imagine the world of popular music sounding the same if they had not existed. For Connie Francis, because of her groundbreaking success which paved the road for all female pop artists to come, including The Carpenters.

As I wrote in last year’s show of Rock Hall snubs, The Carpenters snub is easy to argue and shows both the lack of respect the Rock Hall has for the pop music of the ’70s and their prejudice against female artists. The Bee Gees, Cat Stevens, Donovan (give me a break!), The Doobie Brothers, James Taylor, and Randy Newman are members, but one of the best-selling artists of all time, much less the ’70s, has been snubbed for over twenty years. You don’t have to like an artist’s music to recognize how influential they are. The Carpenters made more impact on the music of today than 75% of the Rock Hall members.

One year later, and all of that still holds true. I have no idea why this group has been cast aside by the induction committee. It could be that they don’t embody the “rock and roll” concept that the original Rock Hall voters were looking for, but we have moved well past that original bias with the latest induction of Lionel Richie. It could be that they didn’t write all of their songs, but that is ridiculous – plenty of old groups did not. If I had to guess, it is simply that The Carpenters have been looked upon by critics for fifty years as an example of soft rock that does not appeal to them. I guess personal taste is subjective, but Karen Carpenter is one of the greatest vocalists in pop music history. At a time when most pop groups were lucky to last two years, they had twenty Top 40 hits in a twelve year career. Twelve of their first fourteen hits made the Top 10, including three #1 and five #2 pop classics. These are the attributes of a Rock Hall inductee. Every other male artist from their era with similar credits has already been inducted. Shameful.

The Carpenters Live in ’76 – complete concert

Connie Francis was Artist of the Week in Radio Faux Show Volume 1, Number 32. Here is what I said then, and it is all relevant as evidence for her inclusion in the Rock Hall.

Connie Francis began her professional career in 1953 at the age of sixteen and spent four years attempting to break through onto the pop charts. During those years, she worked as voice-over talent by recording the vocals for songs that Hollywood actresses could lip sync to in their films, and she had a minor hit as a duet with Marvin Rainwater (peaked at #93, and then went on to sell over a million copies after she became a pop star). In October 1957, during what was considered her last recording session if she didn’t produce a hit, she recorded a cover of a 1923 song that was famous with people her parents’ age called “Who’s Sorry Now.” She thought that covering an old song her parents liked was a bad idea, and at first the single was a flop just like all the rest of her releases. Then in February 1958, Dick Clark played the song on American Bandstand and by the summer it had sold over a million copies. She spent the next four years as the #1 female pop star in America, was also extremely popular in the UK, and by 1964 had become the most successful female pop star in history with 35 Top 40 hits. Although her Top 40 career ended in 1964 (as did most older artists after The Beatles changed pop music forever), she continued to record international hits into the ’70s and was a huge concert draw both at home and abroad.

The rest of the Connie Francis story is heartbreaking. In 1974, she was raped at her hotel room after a concert in New York and was almost murdered by suffocation. The next fifteen years of her life included issues with depression caused by her rape and attempted murder, a 4-year loss of her voice due to nasal surgery, and the loss of her beloved brother after being assassinated by the mafia. Somehow, in the end, she was able to overcome her difficulties and has spent the last thirty-plus years making occasional sold out appearances. She has spent most of her life as an advocate for victim’s rights, reform of the criminal justice system’s inability to resolve violent crime, and mental health.

Connie Francis’ record of thirty-five Top 40 hits (all recorded in a six year period) was not surpassed until Madonna released hit number thirty-six in 1997 (“Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”), fourteen years into her career. The music of Connie Francis certainly sounds like it is from another time, especially compared to the pop music of the 21st century, but she was the first female pop artist to show that a woman can be just as successful as a man in the world of pop music, and everyone from Madonna to Beyoncé to Olivia Rodrigo owes her a debt of gratitude for leading the way.

Know Your History

Most of the obvious influencers on the early sound of rock and roll have already been inducted. Early blues, country, and R&B musicians are easily connected in a straight line with the rock and roll of the ’50s. A more complicated discussion is one of the connection between rock and roll and the early jazz of the ’20s and ’30s, which led to swing music in the ’30s, and the big bands of the ’40s. I am not an expert in music theory or composition, and I can’t argue this connection at a scholarly level. However, it is ridiculous to argue that any popular music of the ’20s through ’40s did not impact the music of the ’50s in some way. That is how music works. Once one accepts this fact, then the list of Rock Hall snubs grows exponentially with artists like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra, just to name the most obvious examples. Clearly, the Rock Hall decided long ago that if an artist played jazz then they shouldn’t be inducted. The problem is that Louis Armstrong is a member. Jelly Roll Morton is a member. Charlie Christian is a member. Just these three artists show the clear line between the ’20s and the ’50s, and leave the door open for dozens of others from their era.

For that reason, I would argue that The Boswell Sisters should be considered. These three sisters produced some of the most interesting music of the early ’30s, and although their career was relatively short, their influence goes far beyond the number of singles they released. Although it can’t be quantified, their influence was most profound in that they brought the “blackness” of swing music to a white audience, they perfected close harmony singing, they used gibberish, scat, and other odd vocal techniques, they changed tempos and time signatures throughout their songs (which is incredible when you realize they lived in the era when three minutes was the max amount of time available for a recording), and, most importantly, they were empowered women who made their male producers and musicians follow their demands. Listening to their music now (that is the actual music, not the poor sound quality that so many people still misunderstand as being the “sound” of music in the past), I hear an artist who, if transported to ’70s London, would have been making Prog Rock and Jazz Fusion. They were the Frank Zappa of their time, using the music and instrumentation of their time to the fullest of its potential.

Rare footage of the sisters (they come in at 1:40)

Ella Mae Morse is one of the true unsung heroes of rock and roll, and one of the last rock and roll pioneers left who is not a member of the Rock Hall. Her recordings with Freddie Slack’s Orchestra in the ’40s and ’50s were a groundbreaking mix of jazz, R&B, and country music and helped lay the foundation for what would become rock and roll. Her recording of “Cow-Cow Boogie” in 1942 was the first gold record for Capitol Records, by any performer, male or female. Her 1943 single “Get On Board Little Chillun” was one of the first songs by a white artist to chart on the new R&B singles chart. She then hit #1 on those charts in 1943 with “Shoo Shoo Baby.” Her 1946 single “House of Blue Lights” is one of the first songs that can be considered rock and roll. Her 1952 single “Blacksmith Blues” was a million seller and foreshadows the sound of hundreds of Top 40 songs that would dominate the charts from the mid-50s on by artists such as Patti Page, Pat Boone, and Perry Como. Her 1952 single “Oakie Boogie” was rockabilly several years before Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis walked into the Sun Records studios. On top of all of this, Morse was popular with both black and white audiences, an extremely important shift for setting up the future of pop music. She presented a smooth sound mixed with raw sexuality, foreshadowing Elvis’ schtick years before he became the King of Rock and Roll. For all of these reasons, you can argue that Ella Mae Morse was the Queen of Rock and Roll before most people knew what rock and roll was.

Morse performs her first hit.

Mary Ford was the vocalist for Les Paul on all of his influential recordings, but when he was inducted to the Rock Hall in 1988 no one would have even considered that his wife was probably just as important to his success. We now live in a day and age where, some people at least, understand that men like Les Paul don’t get anywhere on their own. Mary Ford didn’t invent the electric guitar or multi-track recording, but she was the first vocalist to sing along with herself using the multi-track technique, she was a talented guitarist and vocalist, and she is the voice on all of their recordings. She has been snubbed for over thirty years due to antiquated ideas of the importance of men in music, and it is time she gets the credit she deserves. Without Mary Ford, no one would know who the hell Les Paul is. He would have just been some schmo trying to sell some weird electronic contraption, and then some other dude would have bought it, taken the credit, and now be known as the father of the electric guitar, while Les Paul would be forgotten to history.

’80s Heroines

As I wrote in last year’s show of Rock Hall snubs, The B-52s formed in the mid-late ’70s and laid the groundwork for the new wave music of the ’80s. Their mix of humor, party music, and infectious rhythms and melodies were a much-needed cure for the problems facing America during the Carter/Reagan years. Along with the iconic speak-sing vocals of Fred Schneider, the lead vocals, harmonies, and beehive hair-dos of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson are still a part of pop culture. They exploded into the American consciousness with their SNL performances, and then, when everyone thought they were finished, they released Cosmic Thing, an album containing one of the most popular songs of the ’80s, “Love Shack.” Their infectious fun is dearly needed to counter-balance the growing seriousness of the Rock Hall.

I’m not sure why they don’t get the respect of their contemporaries such as Blondie, Talking Heads, and The Cars. Their music was just as important to the New York/New Wave scene of the late ’70s as those artists, but they didn’t take themselves so seriously. In terms of the theme of this week’s show, Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson are two of the most iconic women of the early days of MTV. They were tough as nails in bee-hive hairdos, just as in-your-face as Joan Jett, but with a smile that showed they knew they were the shit and didn’t have to prove it to you.

New Wave music starts here.

Kate Bush hit #1 in the UK with her first single, “Wuthering Heights,” in 1978. She continued that UK success throughout the ’80s with hit albums, hit singles, and great videos. She has only one Top 40 hit in the US, “Running Up That Hill,” plus a Top 40 duet with Peter Gabriel, “Don’t Give Up,” but she is now one of the most beloved artists of the era. Her 1985 album Hounds of Love was recently announced as #68 on Rolling Stone’s new list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, an incredible feat for an album that was virtually ignored by the mainstream during it’s original release. More recently, her song “Running Up That Hill” was featured throughout Season 4 of Stranger Things, and is now a #1 hit, forty years after its release. Perhaps this will be the final pop-cultural accomplishment that pushes her into induction. She is a Major Snub and there is no argument for why she is ignored as one of the most important female musicians in the history of pop music. She is a prime example of how the Rock Hall focuses on HOW MANY people listen to an artist instead of WHO listens to and is influenced by an artist.

Kate Bush invents MTV
two years before it existed

As I wrote in Radio Faux Show Volume 1, Number #32, it is hard to believe now that in 1983 the media created a popularity war between Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, but that really did happen and, after her first album, Cyndi Lauper was winning. Now, of course, we all know that Madonna had the true staying power and Cyndi Lauper’s career never grew to the same heights as Madonna. But, if you told me right now that I could have one of them give a concert in the street outside my window, I would pick Cyndi Lauper every time, time after time.

It is doubtful that Lauper will ever be inducted to the Rock Hall because they are so focused on an artist’s popularity. Cyndi Lauper’s hit-making, album selling career was relatively short-lived, and she can’t change that. However, her overall body of work, both musically, culturally, and politically is as impressive as any other member. She was a huge star for a brief period, but never gave a shit about what her management wanted her to do. She made videos with second-tier wrestlers because they were her friends. She wrote songs about masturbation and homosexuality that became Top 10 hits. She dressed like she wanted. She didn’t try to act like someone she wasn’t. She was the embodiment of female empowerment. On behalf of Cyndi Lauper, I would like to say “whatever, assholes” to all those who continue to deny her access to the Rock Hall.

Soul Divas

As I wrote in last year’s show of Rock Hall snubs, I was not listening to much pop music in the early ’90s, and definitely not Mary J. Blige. Now that I am much older and wiser, I see that the music of Mary J. Blige lies on a straight line from Ray Charles to Stevie Wonder to Prince to Blige. Her music still sounds as fresh as it was thirty years ago, and her voice is one of the greatest in R&B. Her list of accomplishments, which started with her debut album, are an incredible string of all possible accolades possible for a female R&B artist. Her snub is also one of the most difficult to understand and a prime example of the Rock Hall’s prejudice. Even more ridiculous then the snub of Mary J. Blige is the snub of Mariah Carey. She has sold over 200 million records(!) and is one of the greatest selling artists of all time (male or female). She is arguably the most popular pop music artist not in the Rock Hall. Her influence on R&B and Pop vocals, her use of hip-hop in pop music, and her almost unbelievable list of accomplishments should have made her a first-ballot member. This is the definition of discrimination.

I don’t have anything to add to that. It would make sense if there weren’t any female soul singer members, but Tina Turner, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson, and Whitney Houston are all members. The obvious next step is to induct Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey, not to mention Diana Ross (who I personally don’t like as an artist, but is obviously deserving of induction). It is a safe bet that Beyonce is going to get inducted soon, so they need to get Blige and Carey in before then.

Is Cher a soul singer? I’m not sure. But she is definitely one of the original diva vocalists. Not only was she a member of one of the only important ’60s pop groups yet to be inducted (Sonny & Cher), but she also had an extremely successful solo career in the ’70s and then one of the most famous comebacks in pop history with her song “Believe” in 1998.

As to whether she is a soul artist, it doesn’t really matter. She has one of the most powerful, identifiable, and iconic voices in rock/soul/pop music. She has songs that are iconic across multiple decades (“I Got You Babe” in the ’60s, “Half-Breed” in the ’70s, and “Believe” in the ’90s).

You can ignore her success in television and film, and she is still deserving. Her career as a recording artist stands as one of the biggest Rock Hall snubs of any singer.

Roberta Flack is one of the most unassuming, humble R&B superstars. She recorded Top 40 hits for decades on both the pop and R&B charts, she won Grammy Awards (including the first person to win back-to-back Record of the Year Awards in 1973/74 for “First Time Every I Saw Your Face” and “Killing Me Softly With His Song”), she recorded as part of one of the greatest R&B duos to ever record (Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway), and combined jazz, soul, and R&B as well any artist of her time. At this point in this conversation, it becomes clear that the Rock Hall has a “black women” issue that needs to be corrected. Inducting Roberta Flack is about the easiest start to a solution out there. She is an uncontroversial no-brainer for inclusion.

As I wrote in last year’s show of Rock Hall snubs, Chaka Khan is the Queen of Funk, She has sold over seventy million records, won ten Grammy Awards, and released the first R&B/Rap crossover hit, “I Feel For You.” She is an R&B icon, a symbol of female empowerment, and one of the greatest vocalists of all time in any genre. Like Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige, this snub is an egregious example of blatant sexism. I have nothing new to add to any of that.

What I got will knock all your pride aside.

Sade will never be inducted into the Rock Hall, but she belongs on this list due to the incredible body of work she has produced over the last forty years. What makes her work especially amazing is that she has only released six albums, yet she is a major influence on the rap, soul, and R&B music of the last thirty years. She is black, female, and British, so she will never even get nominated.

Every hip hop vocalist wants to sound like this, but there is only one Sade.

Queen of Funk

Betty Davis was the Artist of the Week in Radio Faux Show Volume 2, Number 10, so I won’t rehash all of that here. Betty Davis will never be inducted into the Rock Hall. In fact, she will probably be forgotten to history tens years from now when all of the current attention she has been receiving becomes old news. Then, thirty or fifty years from now, some new group of music lovers who understand the true meaning of funk, coolness, and female empowerment will rediscover her and create a shrine that is visited by millions of people from around the world. This will become an annual Betty Davis pilgrimage, and thousands of years from now Betty Davis will be looked upon by some future civilization as one of the pinnacles of 20th century American culture. At least, I hope that happens.

You should watch the entire episode of Tales from the Tour Bus featuring Betty Davis.

All-Female Bands

Coming up with this list of four all-female rock bands was not difficult because the options are so limited. For every one of these bands, there are hundreds of male bands who are not as good but are better known. What is especially pitiful is that these bands are separated into ten-year stretches. It hasn’t been until the last ten years that there are multiple all-female bands recording at the same time who people may have actually heard of. That is not to say the females-in-rock discrimination issue has been solved, but that it is slightly not as terrible as it was for over fifty years.

Fanny were Artist of the Week in Radio Faux Show Volume 1, Number 38. You should check out that show if for no other reason then to watch the amazing YouTube clips of this band. I won’t repeat everything I wrote then, but here is an excerpt:

It is ridiculous that most people have never heard of this band. They were accepted more in the UK than in the US, although they were not very successful in either market. They were so far ahead of their time that in the end it led to their downfall. They knock out covers like Cream’s “Badge” and The Beatles’ “Hey Bulldog” as if it is nothing, and their originals (the majority of their songs) move from Beatle’s White Album-period rock to Funk Brothers soul with ease. They are absolutely worthy of recognition as one of the best bands of the early ’70s. To quote David Bowie: They were extraordinary: they wrote everything, they played like motherfuckers, they were just colossal and wonderful, and nobody’s ever mentioned them. They’re as important as anybody else who’s ever been, ever; it just wasn’t their time.

If Fanny were the architects who wrote the blueprint for how to be an all-female rock band, then The Runaways (Lita Ford, Cherie Currie, Jackie Fox, Joan Jett, and Sandy West) were the contractors who erected the first office building. They took all of the testosterone of ’70s hard rock and punk and spit it back at the male-dominated world of rock and roll with a vengeance. Fanny didn’t really give a shit, but The Runaways were the original we-don’t-give-a-shit female band. Original member Micki Steele left the band just before they recorded their debut album and went on to form The Bangles, who along with the Go-Gos became the symbols of all-girl bands in the ’80s. But The Go-Gos and The Bangles were like little children compared to The Runaways. The raw power of the vocals, guitars, and rhythm section of The Runaways was the first time that women were allowed to record music that sounded like it was meant to destroy the men who were listening to it. It is no surprise that the band was done before they could gain any real popularity. They were victims of their time. No one was ready for them. They were too scary to exist. Joan Jett went on to join contemporaries such as Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders) and Debbie Harry (Blondie) on the Mount Rushmore of female rock icons, but the true groundbreaking women of rock were Ford, Currie, Fox, West, and Jett.

Following this analogy where Fanny are the architect and The Runaways are the contractor, L7 are the demolition crew who brought in the wrecking ball and smashed the whole thing to the ground. For some reason, the Rock Hall’s history of the grunge/noise music scene begins and ends with Nirvana. For all of us who were there, listening, watching, and buying indie-label albums and 7″ vinyl, we know that Nirvana simply came in and stole a decade of hard work from hundreds of other bands. I won’t go on a tirade about how over-rated Nirvana was because this show is about women. Let’s just say that I’ll cover some of the other bands from this scene in the next show, and for now we’ll focus on L7. In a sea of white dudes in torn jeans, band shirts, and flannel, L7 were often the lone women out there destroying people’s eardrums and making them bounce all over the smoky, sticky, foul-smelling clubs in every college town across the US.

L7 (a name selected to appear as a gender-neutral symbol) were born out of the early ’80s L.A. punk and hardcore scene. They spent years working local clubs and touring wherever a club would book them until they finally got a record deal in 1988 on indie label Epitaph (the label started by Bad Religion). Within a year they were on SubPop, which led to their identification with the grunge movement. But, they were never a grunge band. They were post-punk on steroids and obliterated the weak sound of most grunge bands of the era. During the next five years, they were signed by a major label, were an early favorite on the Lollapalooza Tour, and played to larger crowds across the US before finally breaking up in the late ’90s. If they were men they would have been more popular and well-known than contemporaries like Soundgarden and Lemonheads, not to mention the string of weak-ass “grunge” acts who controlled the scene, such as Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, and Collective Soul. While Courtney Love and Garbage were giving the world watered-down, commercially-created shit-music based on false female icons, L7 were creating a body of work that still destroys almost all of the music created by their contemporaries.

They reformed in 2014 and are recording and touring again. During the last thirty years they have become icons for political issues such as pro-choice, LGBTQ, women’s rights, and social justice. They are still angry and loud as hell. The most pitiful part of their story is that it is thirty years later and they aren’t back to take the crown from anyone because the last thirty years haven’t produced any female rock bands with their power, energy, and raw “screw you” message, so they never lost the crown in the first place. They are still the role models that cool moms introduce to their daughters to show that women can do anything they want to and rock as hard as a man. As member Donita Sparks said, I feel bad for younger kids who don’t get to see female role models who are not wearing bikinis. L7 have spent forty years living that message.

There are some contemporaries of L7 worth mentioning, such as Babes In Toyland, The Breeders (who also include male members), and Scrawl, but none of them were as influential as L7. The next all-female band to make a noticeable impact was Sleater-Kinney. Born out of the riot grrrl movement, they formed in Olympia, WA in 1994. They weren’t as destructive-sounding as L7, but they were just as raw and powerful. They embodied female power from the start and during the last near-thirty years have released one album after another of their unique mix of noise, post-punk, and indie-rock. They are political and they don’t hide their views. To finish my analogy, after L7 demolished everything in their path, Sleater-Kinney came in with an all-female crew of construction workers and rebuilt the rubble into a commune of female rockers that are allowed to create music on their own terms.

Hopefully, there will be a day when women are allowed to rock like men and no one even talks about their gender. For now, that day seems far away. There have been very few bands to follow the path laid by these four bands. The current landscape of popular music is still controlled by sexualized pop stars and women exploited as early as the industry feels comfortable getting their hands on them. Hopefully there are still enough young girls out there with parents, older siblings, and enlightened friends who can introduce them to bands like L7 that they will learn the empowered message of Fanny, The Runaways, L7, and Sleater-Kinney. The commune created by Sleater-Kinney is out there waiting for the young women of the future to gather together and continue to rock.

The Two Kims

This week’s show is focused on women, both solo and all-female groups, but there are two ’80s bands made up of mostly men who feature a female member on bass and vocals and deserve to be discussed. Neither of the bands has ever been nominated for the Rock Hall, which is ridiculous. The modern sound of rock music was influenced by these groups as much as any other ’80s or ’90s members.

Sonic Youth is the most influential artist in the development of noise-rock, a genre that has spread out across almost all forms of indie-rock since their start in 1977. They will be discussed further in next week’s show. For this week, I’ll focus on founding member, bassist, and vocalist Kim Gordon. There were female punk rock musicians and groups at the time Gordon started with Sonic Youth, but she is the woman who remained the Queen of Indie Rock for thirty years. Her vocal style was not angry and in-your-face, but she conveyed a raw power in them without screaming at the top of her lungs. Her lyrics were poetry and her singing style has been imitated by hundreds of female indie vocalists who came after. Her bass playing was not flashy, but she was the Bill Wyman of female bassists. Cool as hell, totally aloof, and always demanding your attention. There are plenty of great alternative rock bassists from the ’80s and ’90s, but if I had to put together an indie-rock supergroup, Gordon would be the bassist without a second thought.

The Pixies exploded out of Boston and onto the indie-rock scene in 1987 with their debut EP Come On Pilgrim. Their sound was new and their anger resonated with those who would become known as Generation X more than any other band of their time. There is plenty to say about the importance of the band, made up of mostly men, but I’ll focus on their co-founder, bassist, and co-vocalist, Kim Deal. Following in the footsteps of Kim Gordon, Deal laid down her unique bass grooves while remaining the picture of coolness on stage. Even more than Gordon, Deal was the indie-rock heroine who launched the careers of thousands of female bassists through the last thirty years. She wasn’t often featured on lead vocals, but when she was those songs were the highlights, and her backing vocals were an integral sound for the band as they often added control to the uncontrolled rage of vocalist Black Francis. Deal left the band to co-found the band The Breeders, and she never returned, even after the band reunited in the 21st century, but her work on their early records is still some of the most important work by a woman in the indie-rock genre.

I’m the Queen of Rock

The music of Salt ‘N’ Pepa, featuring rappers Salt (Cheryl James) and Pepa (Sandra Denton), with their DJ Spinderella (Deidra Roper), sounds more important every time I listen to it. In the current landscape of misogynistic rap songs passing themselves off as odes to female empowerment, the music of Salt-n-Pepa is more pertinent than ever before. Their songs were always funky, dance-floor grooves with lyrics about positive female sexuality. They were singing about appropriate male behavior years before rap devolved from ridiculous lyrics of male conquests to outright offensiveness and misogyny. Songs like “Push It” and “Whatta Man” were about positive sexual attitudes from a female point-of-view and presented a stark contrast to the music of Schooly D, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and 2 Live Crew. Over thirty years later, it is clear that the lessons taught by these women fell on deaf ears as late ’80s and ’90s rappers Public Enemy, N.W.A., Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, and Eminem are Rock Hall members and there are still no female rap members.

Within a few years of Salt-n-Pepa becoming the first popular, mainstream female rappers, Queen Latifah expanded the female empowerment and positive sexual viewpoint of their music to include social issues pertinent to black women such as domestic violence and sexual harassment. Her anthems of female empowerment “Ladies First” and “U.N.I.T.Y.” still stand as two of the best socially aware dance songs ever recorded. Thirty years later, we all know that Queen Latifah saw much more in her future than being a rap artist, and her success as a television and film actress, jazz vocalist, and A-list celebrity show that she is an incredible talent for much more than her rap beginnings. However, as a rapper, she is the Queen of Rap. The fact that she has never even been considered for induction is yet another sexist example of the Rock Hall’s ignorance.

As I wrote in Radio Faux Show Volume 1, #33, the music of Salt-n-Pepa and Queen Latifah still sounds important because rap has not progressed at all in it’s misogynism and sexual objectification with rappers like Eminem, Jay-Z, and Kanye West still driving the conversation. Even though female rappers have started to take on a larger role in rap’s future, the music of Missy Elliot, Megan Thee Stallion, and their female contemporaries seems to be missing the point that Queen Latifah and Salt ‘N’ Pepa were making back in the early ’90s.

The Alt-Country Queens

Long before the term “alt-country” was created, Emmylou Harris was working with artists like Gram Parsons and Bob Dylan to lay the foundations of the music that would later spread through the ’90s to create an entirely new style of rock. Alt-country, Americana, Roots music – these are all just ways of trying to explain the sound created by those pioneering artists. These artists focused on combining bluegrass, country & western, folk, and rock music, and they didn’t think they were doing anything groundbreaking. After all, rock and roll was born out of a natural combination of swing, blues, jazz, bluegrass, country, and folk music by musicians who were simply playing music in a way that felt obvious to them. Of all of these early alt-country artists only Harris was accepted by the Nashville corporate machine and country fans on a mass scale. Harris has won every conceivable country music award and is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, but the music she made was never meant to be part of the conservative country music machine. She had a deeper understanding of the history of the music she was creating. Steve Earle knows. Townes Van Zandt knew. Gram Parsons knew, for a very short time, before his tragic death. For this reason, Harris is as important, if not more important, to the modern sound of rock music as her contemporaries Dolly Parton or Linda Ronstadt (who are both Rock Hall members) because the modern sound of rock music is so strongly influenced by the work of the ’70s artists who heralded the sound we now call Alt-Country. The Eagles, The Doobie Brothers, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, and others are all members of the Rock Hall, some for decades, and the absence of Harris in this group feels more ridiculous with each passing year.

Lucinda Williams was the Artist of the Week in Radio Faux Show Volume 1, #33, and what I wrote then still holds true. Singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams is the Queen of Alt-Country. She is the first of dozens of female country artists who have recorded since the ’80s but have been classified as too rock for country radio and too country for pop/rock radio. Because of the trail blazed by Williams since 1979, women such as her contemporary Mary Chapin Carpenter (who had a hit with Williams’ classic “Passionate Kisses”), modern artist Brandi Carlisle, and all those like them, are able to flourish in a world in which they are both heralded as great songwriters and seen as outsiders by all mainstream radio and media.

Perhaps the best way to show the cross-genre influence of Lucinda Williams is to note that she has been recognized in both the VH1 Top 100 Women in Rock and Roll list and the Rolling Stone Top 100 Greatest Country Artists of All Time list. She has won three Grammy Awards and multiple other awards and honors, and her album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road was recently listed in the new Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All Time.

Most importantly of all, Lucinda Williams is one of the greatest songwriters of the last forty years. Her songs cut to the heart of human emotion – love, loss, grief, happiness, desire, anger, fear, and all aspects of the human condition in between. As if that isn’t enough talent, she is also blessed with one of the most identifiable and unique voices in music. Much like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, Williams has a voice that is almost impossible to disconnect from her songs. The way her voice and her lyrics intertwine is a rarity among songwriters and makes every one of her albums worth listening to. She is a national treasure and continues to record and tour. She may never get inducted into either the Rock and Roll or the Country Music Hall of Fame, but I doubt she cares at this point. After years of being ignored, the last ten years have finally found her being recognized as the incredible talent that she is.


Joan Armatrading does not have any Top 40 hits in the US, but she has enjoyed a fifty-year career as a cult-favorite artist by all of us who have discovered her over the years. Her lack of hits is most likely due to her being a black woman from England with a unique voice who sings rock and pop. That is unfortunate if for no other reason than songs like “Drop the Pilot,” “Love and Affection,” and “Willow” would certainly be favorites of a lot of people in the States if they had only been given the chance to hear them more over the years. The strength of her songwriting is in her ability to strip down people’s pain into a few verses of a four-minute pop song. Her music is timeless, her 2021 album Consequences is as strong as her earlier work, and listening to her now in the current world climate makes some of her best songs feel like they could become anthems for the times.

Separating the Indigo Girls‘ iconic status in the Lesbian and LGBTQ communities from their music is impossible, but I am going to focus solely on their songwriting. I was working in college radio when Indigo Girls (Amy Ray and Emily Saliers) released their self-titled third album and major label breakthrough in 1989, and the impact it had on everyone who heard it was impossible to ignore. They gave a voice to all of us who felt disenfranchised by the bullshit views of the Reagan/Bush era and gave Generation X a Dylan-like artist to turn to for social and political solace. The fact that they were openly gay at a time when no artists were allowed to be was a breath of fresh air, but was secondary to their music. It was the music that mattered when one listened to their 1989 album. It was powerful folk music in a time of grunge, rap, and horrible pop music. Their two guitars, wonderful harmonies, and vocal mix of power and beauty sounded like they could fill a stadium when they exploded off of that vinyl. R.E.M. certainly heard it and named them as their opening act during their first major-label tour for the album Green in 1989. The critics heard it when they won a Grammy for Best Folk Album. They even almost hit the Top 40 with “Closer to Fine.” After that initial success, they have spent the last thirty years giving their devoted fans a steady stream of their trademark sound. They are arguably the most important folk artists of the last forty years.

Joan Armatrading and the Indigo Girls will never be considered for nomination, much less induction, but if you published the lyrics of every artist in the Rock Hall, and also included the lyrics of these two artists, these three women would stand out with songwriters like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell as the greatest poets in pop music.

The ’90s Revolution

Let’s see if you can spot the pattern in this list of all of the ’90s artists who are currently members of the Rock Hall: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Foo Fighters, Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Tupac, and Eminem. If you noticed that these are all men, you are correct.

I don’t have a clue if any of the women recording artists of the ’90s will ever be nominated, much less inducted, but there was a female music revolution in the ’90s that led to the dominance of women across all genres of music in the 21st century. I’ve already covered some of the most influential women who recorded R&B, rap, and rock in the ’90s, but there are four more artists I’ll mention. These four women enjoyed different levels of success in their careers, and it is hard to imagine that the sound of modern popular music would be the same without them.

On the surface, Fiona Apple may not seem worthy, but she has a body of work that stands up against many current Rock Hall members in quality. The important thing to remember with regard to all four of these ’90s artists, and most of the women in this week’s show, is that record sales, longevity, and critical acclaim are less important than songwriting quality and influence on future artists. This is due to the discriminatory practices leveled against these women and their careers. Fiona Apple is an amazing songwriter whose every album is a singular masterpiece in her style of songwriting. I understand if you don’t get her, or have never listened to her, because she does not fit into the mold of most of the women of her era. She sings about serious emotional, mental, and relationship issues. After she won numerous Grammy Awards for her first album, the most popular single from her second album is about the emotional cost of a relationship doomed to fail. I’m sure her label wanted her to write something like “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” but she never gave in to the major-label exploitation machine. She has lived a life filled with personal problems that have greatly influenced her songwriting, and that is not always what people want to listen to. Tough shit, though, because she is as good as they come at peering into the darkness of the human condition.

Sheryl Crow may not be the most important artist of her generation, but while pop music was moving away from singer/songwriters and into the hands of song production machines, Crow produced a string of rock/pop albums that now feel like the end of the line for female songwriters of her type. We didn’t know it at the time, but she may be the last true female rock and roll songwriter. The fact that she has never even been considered for nomination is ridiculous. I’m not sure what to even say beyond that. Sheryl Crow rocks and when I read the list of members like ZZ Top, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Pearl Jam, and Foo Fighters I can’t help but wonder if women who rock will ever again be inducted.

Alanis Morissette does not have a body of work as impressive as most modern Rock Hall members. All I can say is that before Morissette’s album Jagged Little Pill, women like her were pigeonholed into being either lead singers for male bands, folk artists, or songwriters who all sounded more or less the same. After Jagged Little Pill, the opportunities for female artists seemed to become something very different. That album took over the world for a year, is one of the best-selling albums of all time, and guaranteed that she could be a viable performer for the rest of her life without having to ever record another album as popular, which would have been impossible. Just that seems good enough for induction. She was revolutionary.

Morissette’s album may have been the mainstream album that changed everything for female pop/rock performers, but Liz Phair’s debut Exile In Guyville two years earlier was the alternative rock equivalent. Released on one of the most important indie labels, Matador, in 1993, Phair’s debut came out of nowhere and changed everything. It is one of the greatest albums of the ’90s and proved that a woman could create music just as powerful and more interesting than all of the grunge and alt-rock being made by bands like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and Pearl Jam. After Guyville, Phair’s career has been a string of critical failures, and she has never been accepted as the talent she is. Chants of “sell out” and “too commercial” have followed her throughout her career since her debut, but if you go back and listen to Guyville and then listen to her next six albums you can no longer tell the difference. She is enigmatic in her voice, songwriting, and style. She is unapologetic for how she presents her music. She is a 21st century Joan Jett – she couldn’t care less about what anyone thinks and never compromises. She is the most important of these four women and the most influential. A bunch of white male critics and music executives can have their opinions, but there are thousands of young women who discover her albums each year, especially Guyville, and realize that they can be songwriters too.

Artist of the Week: All of Them

Most of this week’s artists have already been rejected by Rock Hall voters for years, so the least I can do is make them all the Artist of the Week. The last thing they need is one more snub.

Thanks for listening (and reading)!

Track List

TrackArtistSong Title
1Runaways, TheRock and Roll
2FannyAin’t That Peculiar
3Sheryl CrowAll I Wanna Do
4Emmylou HarrisOne Of These Days
5Lucinda WilliamsCar Wheels On A Gravel Road
6Indigo GirlsCloser To Fine
7Carpenters, The(They Long To Be) Close To You
8CherGypsies, Tramps, and Thieves
9SadeSmooth Operator
10Chaka KhanI’m Every Woman
11Mariah CareyEmotions
12Mary J. BligeSweet Thing
13Queen LatifahLadies First
14Salt-n-PepaShake Your Thang (It’s Your Thing)
15Roberta FlackCompared to What
16Betty DavisYour Mama Wants Ya Back
17Fiona AppleSleep to Dream
18Alanis MorisetteHand In My Pocket
19Liz PhairNever Said
21Sleater-KinneyI Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone
22B-52sDance This Mess Around
23Les Paul and Mary FordTiger Rag
24Ella Mae MorseGet Off It And Go
25Boswell SistersRock and Roll
26Connie FrancisEverybody’s Somebody’s Fool
28Sonic YouthTunic (Song For Karen)
29Kate BushRunning Up That Hill (A Deal With God)
30Joan ArmatradingWillow 
31Cyndi LauperTrue Colors

2 thoughts on “Radio Faux Show Volume 2, Number 25 (July 17, 2022): Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs Part One (Female Artists)

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